October 13 2003
GM Daewoo present EUR 60,000 at 40th anniversary of SOS Children's Village Daegu
13/10/2003 - A very special message of love and congratulations was delivered to children in South Korea on Sunday 12 October. It was brought to the SOS Children's Village in Daegu (South Korea) by two "messengers" from London who had driven halfway across the world to deliver it on a remarkable journey of danger and determination.
The two British Daewoo Challengers Richard Meredith and Phil McNerney reached Korea after 115 days, driving in some of the world's most difficult conditions and surviving a catalogue of brushes with danger. Richard Meredith and Phil McNerney were handed the letter at Imst in Austria, foundation village of SOS Children's Villages, soon after they set off on their marathon attempt to drive a family hatchback car to Korea.
The so-called "Daewoo Challenge" began on 9 June in Luton (England). Richard Meredith and Phil McNerney drove their specially prepared Daewoo Kalos 19,000 kilometres through 25 countries across Europe and Asia, often encountering inhospitable terrain and dangerous territories. Along the way, they visited SOS Children's Villages in Diessen (Germany), Rome (Italy), Imst (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), Athens (Greece), Baku (Azerbaijan), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Lahore (Pakistan), Delhi & Calcutta (India), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Bangpoo (Thailand), Hanoi (Vietnam) and Daegu (Korea).
They completed the journey last week, visiting the factory where the car, a 1.4 Daewoo Kalos, was made. On Sunday they hand-delivered the message from Imst as Daegu - the first SOS Children's Village to be built outside Europe - celebrated its 40th anniversary. The British adventurers and their Daewoo Challenge car joined hundreds of other guests at the celebrations.
The goodwill message from Mr Wilfried Vyslozil, executive director of SOS Children's Villages Austria, reminded them how in 1963 Daegu's village for orphaned and destitute children was financed with money raised through the highly successful Grain of Rice Campaign. Back then, the organisation's founder Hermann Gmeiner had asked donors for one US dollar in return for one grain of rice symbolising luck and life. In his message Mr Vyslozil recalled the words of SOS founder Hermann Gmeiner: "It's easy to do good - if many people help."
The sentiment was echoed by Mr Chong-Su Kim of GM Daewoo, who handed over a cheque for 60,000 euros - a donation from the GM "family" to mark the achievement of the successful Challenge drive - to Father Joseph Chung, Korea's SOS director.
Earlier, children from the Daegu village, sponsors, guests and friends, had celebrated mass with the archbishop of Daegu and senior clergy. This was followed by a cake-cutting ceremony, lunch and a demonstration of traditional dancing.
As a sign of gratitude for their own SOS Children's Villages, representatives of SOS Children's Villages South Korea have decided to hand over the donation to a poorer Asian country. The money will serve for building one family house at a children's village in Bharatpur, Nepal, which will provide homes for some 140 children.
GM Daewoo, which has close ties with SOS Children's Villages, suggested that the Challenge raise money for the children's welfare organisation. "I was delighted to agree as children's causes are close to my heart, and especially with so many of them innocently suffering from the effect of wars and conflicts in our world today," said 54-year-old Meredith, himself a father of two.
SOS Children's Village Secretary-General Richard Pichler commented on the successful end of the Challenge: "Congratulations to Richard and Phil who have fought their way through all kinds of challenges to reach their goal! Thanks to the perseverance of the two British adventurers and the wholehearted commitment of GM Daewoo, this generous donation will make a tremendous difference to the lives of children in Nepal. We are delighted about this great achievement. On behalf of the worldwide SOS Children's Village organisation and especially the children - thank you!"